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Questioned as a murder suspect, solid (but drunk) citizen Al Willis attacks his police questioners, is beaten, and swears vengeance against them. Next night, Lieut. Parks is murdered; Willis is the only suspect in the eyes of tough Chief Conroy, who pursues him doggedly despite lack of evidence. The obsessed Conroy is dismissed from the force, but continues to harass Willis, who flees to a sleazy town on the Mexican border. Of course, Conroy follows. But which is crazy, Conroy or Willis? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
NAKED ALIBI: caution - film may not deliver on promises inherent in title
I'm not sure how Universal slipped this one past the Bureau of Consumer Protection, but they did. Despite the title's bold claim, this 1954 crime drama features absolutely no nudity or alibis - clothed or unclothed. On the plus side, it does co-star the deliciously sexy Gloria Grahame, but on the minus side it's a very poorly written part which does nothing to showcase her particular talents. She plays Marianna, a saloon singer in a sleazy town on the US side of the Mexican border, who manages to get herself involved with both an ex-cop (Sterling Hayden) and the suspected cop-killer (Gene Barry) he is obsessively pursuing. Even by the often convoluted standards of film noir (which this movie aspires to be) plotting, the story makes little sense, but there's little else to distract the attention. Hayden sleepwalks through his part with the air of an actor focusing on his paycheck rather than the script's obvious flaws, while Barry struggles unsuccessfully to create some sort of plausible whole out of the many inconsistencies in his character. In one scene he's a baker and family man wrongly accused by bullying detectives of murdering an officer, and in the next he's a big shot gangster (without a gang or criminal purpose) on the Mexican border, splashing the cash, roughing up the locals, and inflicting his particularly aggressive brand of lovin' on Miss Grahame. Quite how or why he leads this double life doesn't trouble director Jerry Hopper. In fact, very little seems to bother Mr Hopper. Not the implausible plot, the waste of talent (Grahame and Hayden) or the film's slapped-together-on-a-shoestring feel. NAKED ALIBI was shot in large part on the Universal back-lot and it looks it. The town square will be instantly recognizable from countless other movies made by the studio, while the border town's back alleys and loading docks are littered with those empty wooden crates one only ever sees in such large numbers in low budget movies where they're trying to fill in the space without spending money on props. Production values are so low that NAKED ALIBI plays more like a lackluster 1950s TV drama than a big screen entertainment. If Hopper thought he was contributing to the often stylish and memorable canon of low-budget film noir thrillers which many studios turned out in the early 1950s he was wrong. The confused plot, unimaginative camera-work and cast going through the motions put paid to that. For the Gloria Grahame completists among us this is a must-see, for everyone else there's plenty of other, much more rewarding things, you could be doing with your time. Check out more of my reviews at http://thefilmivejustseen.blogspot.com/
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